Monday Question – Do You Like To Buy Perfume When Travelling?

Do you usually buy perfume when you travel abroad?

Is a new city a good excuse for a new bottle?

Do you enjoy exploring the fragrant scene in other countries or do you prefer the unhurried pace of decision-making at home?

Do you return from your travels with new perfume as a souvenir?


My Answer:

I usually plan a good part of my travels around perfume. I deliberately time my perfume purchases to coincide with travels, even if I could get the same one at home or online. When bought abroad, it is somehow a bit more precious, a bit more romantic.

I brought a perfume home from London that I wanted to have for at least two years, but somehow I never actually bit the bullet. It is an expensive perfume, and therefore it is a purchase not to be undertaken lightly. When I was in London I still didn’t quite feel ready to part with my money although I know this is a perfume I will wear gladly on a daily basis if I had to. When I saw an Hermès boutique at Heathrow Terminal 3 (I usually fly out of Terminal 1, so I didn’t expect one), I knew now was the time.

So I am the happy owner of Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, smooth vetiver and toasty hazelnuts evoke a cool, calm and collected air of quiet dignity and efficiency. It is love.

Do you buy something on vacation of business travels? What was your last acquisition?


About Olfactoria

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49 Responses to Monday Question – Do You Like To Buy Perfume When Travelling?

  1. I always do, dear Birgit. I usually return with two new bottles from each trip. Living so far away and with increasing restrictions in our postal service, it is almost the only way for me to have access to certain brands.


  2. cookie queen says:

    I do likewise actually. ! Aaaaah. Vetiver Tonka is the one out of all of the Hermessence I want to try.

  3. Heya Birgit,
    Great buy. So happy for you. Vetiver Tonka is lovely.
    I LOVE to plan my holidays around fragrance and have to leave plenty of room in my suitcases for gallons of it.
    My last overseas purchase earlier in the year was Alahine from Bloom in London. Very happy that it’s in my collection now and it hasn’t left my vanity inthe bedroom since I got home, and yes I have opened it.
    Portia xx

  4. Tatiana says:

    If there is a local boutique carrying a perfume I want, I usually just purchase it at home. That said, travels to Paris and London create opportunities to sniff and try those elusive and exclusive scents. Daniel the Chanel SA at Bergdorf’s in New York is such a sweet and helpful person, so I try to give him my business when I want one of Les Exclusifs, even though there’s a boutique nearby in SF. Yes, when in Paris or London, I definitely do shop for perfume.

  5. Sandra says:

    Congratulations on your Vetiver Tonka! Beautiful perfume. In answer to your question, yes I buy perfume on vacation. It does depend on where I am on vacation though.


    yes, a new city is a good excuse. sometimes you can find niche perfume-makers, who won’t ship to anywhere else… it’s one of the last places of shopping surprise in our global village 😉

  7. Alice says:

    I’m sure VT and you have a very happy future together!
    Trips to Paris sparked my love of perfume; especially the stunning Lutens boutique at the Palais de Jardins Royal, the FM boutique, the Caron flagship…. my first and much loved purchases were all made there, with great excitement. I don’t travel as much now, and London where I live has so many great shops, that most of my purchases are local. However I miss those voyages of discovery – your post has set me dreaming!

  8. Ines says:

    Basically yes. And I always seem to come home with a bottle. Or two. Sometimes three. 😉
    But as nowadays that’s mostly how I acquire new perfumes it’s not as bad as it sounds.

  9. Undina says:

    Vetiver Tonka is such a happy perfume! Congratulations on your bottle! I’ll wear it in your name tomorrow to the office (I have a travel spray).

    I do not travel enough 🙂
    Mostly I buy perfumes online. Sometimes, when it’s available at the local store, I would buy it there – to maintain relationships with SAs who were good to me. I would love to find a perfume somewhere on my trip beautiful to the degree where Ijust cannot leave without it. But so far I’ve never done any unplanned purchases while travelling. The last planned one was last summer in Paris – Bombay Bling!

    • Olfactoria says:

      That honors me, thanks you Undina!

      I would love for you to find an unplanned treasure too! Something that you completely fall for, leaving no rational thought.

  10. Lyubov says:

    Dear Birgit,
    I haven’t written here for a long time…I miss it, because I am overload with work…
    But I’ll answer that question – I feel it’s right!
    Basically, travelling time is the time when I buy perfumes the most! I plan it carefully and I bought my Vetiver Tonka on a trip to Hamburg, as well (in a set of 15-ml sweeties Ambre Narguile, Poivre Samarcande and Santal Massoia, which I later swapped for Paprika Brasil). As I share your soft spot for Hermes, I would like to add that I had Un Jardin Sur Le Toit and Concentree Pamplemousse Rose from Charles De Gaulle airport on my way back from Marseille. If I could, I would spend all my travelling pocket money on perfumes, because a great deal of niche perfumery is not sold in my country.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dear Lyubov,
      so lovely to hear from you again! I hope you are very well despite the workload.

      I love your recent purchases (of course I do – they are Hermès! 😉 ) and I’m glad you had the chance to pick them up on your travels. They make for such lovely memories!

  11. Vanessa says:

    Congrats on your new bottle! Vetiver Tonka is just lovely. I introduced my English teacher to VT and she wore it on her wedding day, which I was dead chuffed about.

    As for your question, I used to do this – I bought EL Intuition at Lanzarote airport in 2001! I bought Angel at Tegel airport (oh, that almost rhymes 😉 ) in 1992? I copped for 3 bottles in Paris in 2008, just after the mania took hold. But I am trying not to buy any bottles now, whether at home or on the move…;)

    • Olfactoria says:

      I remembered the story about your English teacher actually when I bought it, the woman surely has good taste.

      Understandable, I shouldn’t either, but… you know… 😉

  12. I always find that I want to purchase something on a trip, but most of the time the airports or the city just have the usual duty free fare. Hmmmm, maybe I need to plan a trip to Paris :). Good choice on the Vetiver Tonka!!!

  13. Anka says:

    Vétiver Tonka is one of my favorites from the Hermessence line, I have it in the traveller size and together with Poivre Samarcande it’s on my desk right now (even though I associate it with autumn and winter but spring has just arrived this weekend..).

    Tomorrow I’ll go on a trip to Merseburg, which has a fascinating cahtedral (dom). And there’s a charming little perfumery with a shelf of discounted fragrances, I got a full 100 ml bottle of Jardin en Méditerranée for 10 € there, only because it was missing the cap.
    So, yes, I love to plan my trips not really around fragrance but maybe supplemented by fragrance shopping. Hm, but now I really want to plan a trip around fragrance!

  14. annemarie says:

    I travel for work several times a year and get an allowance. If I eat cheap (though I can’t always) I can put this towards perfume. That’s how I bought L’Ambre des Merveilles a few weeks ago. And Un Jardin sur le Nil the same way, a few years ago. It means I pay full retail, but you are right; purchasing while traveling is much more memorable!

    • Olfactoria says:

      The allowance is great! I like my food, but for perfume I have been known to go hungry too. 😉
      I see with pleasure that both of your recent travel buys are by Hermès. 😉

  15. empliau says:

    Congratulations on Vetiver Tonka! A scent you love and have looked forward to is double pleasure. On my anniversary trip to Paris, I bought (well, my husband did, for my birthday) a bell jar of SL Un Lys. I had a difficult time deciding between that and Tubereuse Criminelle – perhaps I have a split personality. Anyway, how does one buy more than one bottle, with the plastic ziploc rule? I never check fragrance. Although I suppose duty-free might obviate that problem…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Exactly, duty-free helps. But now and again it is impossible to avoid checking perfume. I went to London with a suitcase full of perfume to bring for friends. Thankfully all turned out well.

  16. Farouche says:

    Congratulations on your purchase! I just received somed Vetiver Tonka from a nice swapper, and am just getting acquainted :).

    I recently returned from Miami Beach, where I bought Vengeance Extreme by Juliette Has a Gun. It is a big rose and patchouli mix and really packs a punch. Quite suitable for the noisy, colorful scene on South Beach, and it will always remind me of my trip.

  17. Annina says:

    Hi Birgit!
    Yes, as infrequent as I travel, it is always occasion to buy perfume. I do my research ahead of time, and plan what I’ll buy. Sometimes, when in the vacation or travel mood, I can easily stray and add an unplanned bottle. The DH is also easily swayed while traveling, so it works out well for me.

    We go to San Francisco at least once a year, my best friend lives there. They have a wonderful Neiman Marcus perfume dept, as well as a Barney’s. Really over did it last spring! But it was worth it.

    Haven’t traveled abroad for quite some time, unfortunately. Our last oversea adventure was a trip to Auxerre in 2004, and didn’t even need to stop in Paris for perfumed fun – though I obviously really wish to return! Auxerre had plenty – Roger & Galley, Yves Rocher, boutiques. And the airport, of course.

  18. anitathepianist says:

    I have not traveled recently, but some instances of buying perfume in Europe are etched in my mind forever. I was in a department store in Paris, saw a display for Calèche, I told the saleslady in my imperfect French how much I loved it, and she loaded my bag with all kinds of extras, then hugged me. In Spain, not speaking a word of Catalan, I found a woman in a boutique who wanted to show me all kinds of Spanish fragrances. I bought two or three, then she gave me several others just as a gift. What a pleasure, the nicest shopping experiences i’ve ever had.

  19. Miss Woolf says:

    Because I’m very focussed (yes, I am proud to say that my impulse buys are almost non-existent by now) it totally depends on where I’m going. And it also depends on the people I come across in my travels. If the SA is knowledgable and I feel a connection with him/her then I prefer to buy (whatever is on my list) from them, but if they aren’t that bothered, if they don’t make an effort, well then I would rather buy from Steven at Place Vendôme or Antonio at Marie Antoinette’s or First in Fragrance. My most recent purchase from an SA was at NK in Stockholm and I know I will always go back there. She was awesome, I felt a real bond with her, she knew what she was talking about and she wasn’t just trying to flog me the most expensive thing (and I was wavering between Mona’s Vanille and Oud after all), she was genuinely interested in trying to help me reach a decision that was right for me.

    But what we all want to know though Birgit, what did you buy in London..?

    • Olfactoria says:

      I agree, giving an SA business who is dependable and lovely is so much more satisfying. Did you get Vanille or Oud in the end?
      I bought Vetiver Tonka. 🙂

      • Miss Woolf says:

        I love Vetiver Tonka, but Ellena’s touch is just too light for me. Enjoy 🙂
        I chose Vanille in the end, my 5ml roll-on was a great support during the heavy year that was 2013. It helped me when I couldn’t sleep but it also helped lift my spirits when I was down. I’m hoping that Oud will become mine before the year is up, but for now I’m delighted with my choice.

  20. Jackie b says:

    I always have a comprehensive list of perfumeries in each place I visit, it is such fun to see bottles of fragrances I have only read about!
    Last trip was a bottle of Chanel Cuir de Russie and several from L’Erbolario which I had never seen here.
    It is great to sniff too, even if you don’t buy!
    Do we all have patient partners?

  21. rickyrebarco says:

    Always, perfume is something I always look for on a trip. If I’m traveling in another country I check out the local perfume shops and the local pharmacies for fragrances. In the U.S. I go for the niche perfume shops in large cities. Duty free shops in airports are always a must, too. On a recent trip to L.A. I made a special trip to Lucky Scent, a niche shop there and had a lovely afternoon sampling and buying. I had them mail my goodies to me, not wanting them to be stuck in my suitcases with risk of breakage. What’s a vacation without perfume??

  22. Travel is definitely an opportunity to go sniffing and buying. London and Paris are incredible for perfume. The last time I was traveling was London and I went to Neil’s vanilla talk and really wanted to say hi to you but then I had to dash to another engagement that I was very late for. I actually didn’t really do that much perfume browsing when I was there as I spent quite a bit of time just being a tourist and visiting the National Portrait Gallery that has a brilliant David Bailey exhibition at the moment. I always make a list of perfume shops / department stores to visit but then quickly amend it as I realise I’m never going to fit it all in. Sometimes I reach a saturation point with perfume browsing and get a little sick of it to be honest. I did visit Liberty though and had a good look around there and finally bought Fourreau Noir in the black spray atomiser that I had been wanting for quite a while. I also love the duty free stores at the airports in Europe as they have such a huge range and I found that Gatwick even has Chanel’s Les Exclusives.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Too bad we didn’t meet this time, hopefully there will be another opportunity in the future.
      I can totally see your point about the saturation point for perfume browsing. I regularly suffer from it when spoiled for choice in London in NYC.
      Congratulations on your new Lutens!
      The travel sprays are great.

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